Peanut is Gone!

There's a huge pile of stuffed animals beside my daughter, Molly's bed. Bears, tigers, puppies, an alligator, a moose, and even a few human infants. They all lay ignored by their now eight year old owner. Moving them all once again to vacuum, I even found an expensive designer doll that Molly begged me to buy her for Christmas one year. I feel vaguely sorry for these abandoned beings, like the castaways Rudolf the Reindeer met in the land of misfit toys.

Each of these animals and dolls had their day. Some lasted as a favorite for over a month. Others were a just flash in the pan at a birthday party, cuddled for two minutes, then tossed in the pile with the rest of the has-beens. Despite their neglected state, I would be roundly chastised should I ever suggest that perhaps they are now merely clutter, which we could clear to improve the bedroom's feng shui. "Dad is such a boar!" is the unspoken opinion toward the family member whose sense of practicality scores much higher than his sense of sentimentality. "He doesn't understand anything."

But there is one animal who does not sit in this pile. Peanut is a little baby stuffed monkey. Peanut has enjoyed the royal honor of being Molly's favorite for over a year now. Peanut's reign has lasted longer than any before, and possibly longer than any to come. Peanut sleeps in Molly's arms. Peanut speaks in a special baby voice that Molly has given him. It is a voice sweet enough to bring out the maternal instinct in an All-star Wrestler.

Molly is peanut's adopted mother. She insists that I watch Peanut carefully for her while she is at school. When she spends the night at a friend's house, she will call home to make sure Peanut doesn't miss her too much. She becomes panicked when she thinks Peanut may be feeling neglected.

Her ability to take care of Peanut seems to be a kind of test to see if she will be a good mother when she grows up. Peanut came with us on a vacation in southern California. I knew it was a bad idea to take Peanut into the convenience store beside the freeway near San Luis Obispo. But Molly was excited to let Peanut pick out her treat for her. We returned to the car with ice cream in hand. It wasn't until we home and unpacking that we realized we were missing something.

I watched all the joy that had accumulated over the vacation vanish from the face of my child the instant she identified when she had last seen Peanut. Her body slumped into my arms as she whimpered, "Peanut's still sitting on the ice cream cooler. I forgot him!"

Molly was racked with grief. She felt like she had failed him. First, she wanted to drive back and get him. Then she wanted to know what would happen to him if someone found him. Would he be given to another kid? Would he be thrown in the trash? After an hour of calls to San Luis Obispo we tracked down the store, but no one there could find a stuffed monkey. Peanut was gone.

Unlike other losses, Molly did not recover after a good cry and a little time. Every night for the past week she is reminded of Peanut at bedtime, and she becomes sad. She reminds me of when I got dumped by my girlfriend in high school. I walked around in a daze. I couldn't study. I sold all my records, because they all extolled the virtues of romantic love. Life sucked.

Is it a good thing to be so attached to something? The Buddhist's might say no. These attachments are the source of our suffering. But Molly didn't decide to become attached to Peanut. She didn't weigh the pros and cons. Peanut and she just bonded. Will she guard her heart more carefully after this? When she losses her first love, will some of her tears be also for Peanut?

If you find a stuffed animal somewhere, like in a store, or a waiting room. And if it looks like maybe a child has mistakenly left him or her there... could you turn it in to the lost and found? And if no one claims it, could you give it to a kid that will take care of it? I know that there are more practical things to worry about. But at our house, right now, this is really important.

© 2007, Tim Hartnett

Other Father Issues, Books

*    *    *

Your children need your presence more than your presents. - Jesse Jackson

Tim Hartnett, Ph.D. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Santa Cruz, CA. He specializes in Individual Counseling, Couples Therapy, and Divorce Mediation. He can be reached at 831.464.2922 or through his website:

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2019, Gordon Clay